10 Games, Movies, And Books Like Zelda: Link's Awakening

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The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is one of the more unique games in Nintendo’s beloved series. It’s one of the few entries without Princess Zelda, without Hyrule, and without the Triforce. Link’s travels on the mysterious Koholint Island, meeting new people and experiencing unique things make for an adventure that’s as wholesome and comforting as it is strange and unexpected.

There aren’t many games that are quite like Link’s Awakening, even in the Zelda series itself, so we took it upon ourselves to recommend some of our favourite games, books, and movies that fit in with some of its themes and vibes. Whether it’s a story of someone moving to a new town, a Zelda-like adventure you may not have been aware of, or a cute show about animals living in society, we’ve compiled them in this list.

Please take note that the following entries may contain spoilers for Link’s Awakening.

We’ll come back to update this article if we discover any more experiences that we’d recommend to Link’s Awakening fans. For now, we hope you enjoy our suggestions–feel free to drop your own recommendations in the comments below!

Quick look:

Games like Link’s Awakening

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (3DS, N64)

Link’s Awakening has always been considered the oddball of the Zelda series, and the only other installment that evokes a similar sense of pathos is The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. Like Link’s Awakening, the game takes place not in Hyrule, but rather an alternate world called Termina, which is doomed to be crushed by a moon in three days unless Link intervenes. Much of the game’s drama unfolds within the walls of Clock Town, a quaint village in the center of Termina, inhabited by some charmingly peculiar residents, and over the course of your recurring 72-hour journey, you’ll come to know the inhabitants of Clock Town on a personal level. It’s a very melancholy and touching experience that still resonates strongly to this day, thanks to the excellent 3DS remake. | Kevin Knezevic

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Stardew Valley (PS4, XONE, Switch, PC)

If you like the idea of moving to a new place, meeting weird inhabitants, and maybe even fighting some monsters, Stardew Valley basically has it all. Yes, it’s a farming game, but part of what makes it one of the best farm sims ever made is how intriguing its world and characters are. There’s more than meets the eye in Pelican Town, with small-town secrets and drama (and even some supernatural weirdness) to discover. And if farming isn’t your thing, you can grab a sword and descend into the mines, where you fight slimes just like Link does. I really can’t recommend this game enough, and while it’s not exactly like Link’s Awakening, it has a very similar spirit. | Kallie Plagge

Stardew Valley is available digitally through the PlayStation 4 Store, Xbox One Store, Nintendo Switch Eshop, and Steam. Alternatively, you can purchase physical editions with the buy buttons below.

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Collection of Mana (Switch)

Collection of Mana contains one of the Super Nintendo’s most classic titles, Secret of Mana, along with its predecessor and beloved sequel–the latter of which released in the West for the first time with this collection. Final Fantasy Adventure, Secret of Mana, and Trials of Mana (aka Seiken Densetsu 3) are similar to the Zelda series with overhead action elements, puzzles, and gorgeous visuals, combined with an added RPG element. This collection deserves a place on any Zelda fan’s shelf. | Dave Klein

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Minit (PS4, XONE, Switch, PC)

Minit is a charming indie title that bears some noticeable similarities to Link’s Awakening–your character finds a sword on a beach, defeats enemies, and solves puzzles to progress–but with an important twist: your character can only live for a single minute. Each 60-second run requires you to find a way to checkpoint your progress for your next attempt. It’s exhilarating to figure out ways to progress your adventure when your time is so limited. | Dave Klein

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Movies like Link’s Awakening

Spirited Away

Spirited Away is one of Hayao Miyazaki’s most beloved films, and if you’re looking to recapture that feeling of a kid in a strange land trying to get back home, then it’s a great choice. Spirited Away is full of memorable characters that you’ll be sad to say goodbye to just as you were with the inhabitants of Koholint Island. | Mat Paget

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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Link’s Awakening is one of the most melancholy of Nintendo’s fabled series, in part because of the dramatic reveal. As you slowly unravel the mystery of the island, you realize that completing your quest will mean saying goodbye to the charming cast of Koholint Island. It’s thematically similar to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a magical realism tale about a man who undergoes an experimental procedure to erase the memories of his ex-girlfriend. When Link plays the Song of Awakening to the Wind Fish, we see the island and its inhabitants fade away to nothingness. One of Marin’s final lines was to tell Link that if he forgets her, she will never forgive him. In both Link’s Awakening and Eternal Sunshine, the characters–and audience–are left to ponder the value of memory as an ephemeral remnant of the people we’ve cared about. | Steve Watts

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The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

Alright, this one is a bit of a stretch, but stick with me here. Link was forced onto Koholint Island by a raging storm. Tokyo Drift protagonist Sean Boswell was forced to move to Japan with his dad by the aftermath of an illegal street race. Both explore their new surroundings, make friends with the locals, and get up to a lot of mischief. Link’s quest is to wake up the Wind Fish, while Sean’s is to beat the local Drift King at his own game–both want to save their friends from the evil that plagues their respective communities. Of course, these two stories are quite different, but if you’re a fan of that “New Kid In Town” type of story, then Tokyo Drift is one of my absolute favourites–and I can’t recommend it enough. | Mat Paget

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Shows like Link’s Awakening

Polar Bear Cafe

If the Animal Village from Link’s Awakening had its own show, I’d like to think it would be similar to Polar Bear Cafe. It’s a slice-of-life anime about a very sleepy and very lazy Panda and the adventures they go on with the owner and patrons of Polar Bear’s Cafe. It’s frequently lighthearted, often wholesome, and always silly. | Mat Paget

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Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks follows Agent Dale Cooper as he investigates the murder of Laura Palmer. Dream-like, goofy, and at times dark, Twin Peaks was cited by Link’s Awakening director Takashi Tezuka as an influence for the Zelda classic. It may not be very reminiscent of Zelda, but Twin Peaks is about a city boy (Agent Cooper) going to a new town and falling in love with it and its residents, just like Link with Koholint Island. The setting and characters are so quirky and fun, you may just find yourself falling in love with them as well. | Mat Paget

You can also watch our recent video, “How Twin Peaks Inspired Link’s Awakening.”

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Books like Link’s Awakening

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Manga

Most of the entries in The Legend of Zelda manga series are pretty good, but Twilight Princess is especially well-written. Each of the manga series retell the stories of their respective games but add additional internal thoughts and behind-the-scenes conversations to provide greater context to characters’ actions. Oh, and Link talks in all of them. Though you lose the sense of adventure by turning a game into a book, the added dialogue fleshes out the stories in interesting, and usually more rewarding, ways. The Twilight Princess manga is so good because it writes a better arc for the evolving rivalry-turned-friendship-turned-love between Link and Midna. If the tragedy of Link’s Awakening–that Link will never be able to interact with the friends he’s made on Koholint Island ever again–speaks to you, you’ll like the Twilight Princess manga. | Jordan Ramee

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Source: Game Spot Mashup